Refinery Accident Prevention Takes a Backseat

The oil and gas industries are hugely important businesses in the state of Texas, but unfortunately, refineries are inherently dangerous; the raw materials, processes and products come together to put workers at high risk all the time. Factor in the failure to comply with safety regulations in favor or productivity, and cutting corners in regular maintenance of aging machinery, and you have what can only describe as an explosive situation waiting to happen.

Texas is home to the largest refineries in the US, but size is not a major factor when it comes to the possibility a refinery accident. All refineries have the potential for serious accidents, and the workers are the first to feel it. But despite numerous incidents, big and small, that have happened in the last two decades, there has been no serious push-back from those slated to oversee and impose regulations on refineries.

Critics agree that a powerful lobby plus the almost constant demand for more end-products of refineries by a fuel-hungry population has muzzled regulatory bodies. Companies that have been brought up on charges for violations of safety regulations have managed to use the courts to delay any significant change in the status quo. This means that refinery workers have no choice but to hope and pray that the piece of equipment they are working on doesn’t decide that today is the day it will explode.

It is only when a serious refinery accident does happen, as in the case of the 2005 explosion at the BP refinery in Texas that took the lives of 15 people and injured 170 others, that people sit up and take notice. It resonates because it costs these refinery companies money. So if you or someone you know works in a refinery and suffers an injury because of unsafe working conditions, make sure that they hear your protest. Consult with a refinery accident lawyer and hit them as hard as possible where it hurts most: their pockets. Maybe then they will give more attention to protecting the people who work for them.